ALBANY — The Albany Museum of Art Teen Art Board will collect art supplies throughout February for children at the Liberty House of Albany.

The “Love for Liberty House” art supply drive by the AMA Teen Art Board got under way on Feb. 1 and will continue throughout the month, AMA Director of Education and Public Programming Annie Vanoteghem said.

“I am so proud of the Teen Art Board’s desire to be involved in our community during this difficult season,” Vanoteghem said. “The Liberty House of Albany is near and dear to our community. Having access to supplies for creative expression is incredibly important to a child’s well-being. These individual art bags will allow for self-expression and give the kiddos items that truly belong to them during an unsure time.”

“We at the AMA are moved by the passion our Teen Art Board demonstrates in making this worthy program a reality,” AMA Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf said. “This program is symbolic of the AMA’s mission to be relevant and to make available creative experiences for all members of the Albany community. This partnership with Liberty House drives home the reality that art and art-making is a right that belongs to each and every one of us, everywhere.”

Liberty House, observing its 40th anniversary this year, is a nonprofit organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence and their children. The organization, which serves 17 counties in southwest Georgia, provides a wide range of services, including emergency shelter, to meet the needs of domestic violence victims, their children and families. It operates a crisis line around the clock and provides domestic violence education and prevention programs. Liberty House services are free of charge, and are available to all men, women and their children who are victims of domestic violence.

“I’m so excited to start this project,” Sarah Katherine Harris, the president of the AMA Teen Art Board who had the idea for the project, said. “Art is my favorite thing ever, and I love to use my passions to serve others. I’m excited to get the entire community involved.”

Liberty House Executive Director Diane Rogers said the donations will help her organization work with the children they serve.

“When people think of Liberty House, they think of adults, but we serve children, too,” Rogers said. “Last fiscal year, 50% of the population of those in shelter were children.”

While the children are with them, Liberty House staff try to expose them to opportunities they may not have had, including enrichment activities.

“Art is part of that,” Rogers said. “We do lots of activities with the kids, incorporating some therapeutic ways of dealing with their trauma.”

Collection boxes for the art supplies drive will be at Deerfield-Windsor School and the Albany Museum of Art.

“We’ll place the art supplies we supply in bags that will be given to each child who comes to Liberty House,” Vanoteghem said. “These children are going through very difficult times, and our hope is these art packages will make things just a little better for them.”

Rogers said Liberty House officials are appreciative of the collaboration between the AMA and Deerfield-Windsor.

“Our staff and board appreciate all the love and support we get from our community and other organizations,” she said. “All nonprofits struggle for funding and support, and for someone like that (another nonprofit) to come out and support and partner, it just means the world to us. We greatly appreciate it, and we appreciate what you (the AMA) do in the community. Art is a very important part of what we do. We’re just glad we were on your minds and Sarah thought of us. It means a lot for you to help us and what we do for our kids.

“I’m excited about it. Our child advocate is going to be so ecstatic. She is so creative with our kids. She’s going to love that she will have an array of items to pull from when she’s doing an activity with the kids.”

Deerfield-Windsor Director of Advancement Lauren Ray said Harris is an inspiration to others.

“We are really inspired by our DWS senior Sarah Katherine Harris’s devotion to serve her fellow community members through two of Albany’s treasured nonprofits: the Albany Museum of Art and the Liberty House,” Ray said. “A commitment to serving others is always encouraged and celebrated in our school, and we are super thankful that she has engaged in this worthwhile endeavor.”

Vanoteghem said the Teen Art Board is looking for donations of new or unopened non-toxic art supplies that are appropriate for elementary school-age children. Included in the wish list are markers, colored pencils, small watercolor palettes, watercolor brushes, crayons, sketchpads or sketchbooks, drawing paper, glue and safety scissors.

“They don’t need to be a certain brand or a certain size,” she said. “We will create art kits for each child who comes to Liberty House that the child can keep, and art supplies not used in the kits will be given to Liberty House for use in their programs.

“If anyone wants to donate cash or a gift card from a business that sells art supplies, those will be given to Liberty House as well so they can purchase those items at a later date.

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